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Citizens Advice Bureau manager Jane Ballard thanks Suffolk County Council for 'change of heart' after funding u-turn

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Citizens Advice Bureaux across Suffolk will have county council grant funding again from next year, after finance chiefs performed a u-turn on cuts.

The cash-strapped council last year announced it would be axing the £368,000 subsidy it provided to CABs in Suffolk as part of a series of cuts to services.

That change was then phased over two years in light of furious biteback from the CABs, members of the public and opposition parties, and resulted in a zero-hour deal with the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to provide one year of grant funding.

Jane Ballard, district manager of Suffolk West Citizens Advice Bureau, for Bigger Read feature.. (24687341)
Jane Ballard, district manager of Suffolk West Citizens Advice Bureau, for Bigger Read feature.. (24687341)

Now, Gordon Jones, cabinet member for finance, has confirmed in the first draft of the council’s budget for next year that it will restore a CAB grant of £360,000 over three years – £120,000 a year.

The funding is understood to be given on the basis that the CABs become financially independent by the end of those three years.

“I think a lot of the CABs understand that and are very much ready to have further transformation,” said Mr Jones.

“There has been a lot [of transformation] in the west of the county and that’s a direction they are going to replicate.”

Jane Ballard, manager of Citizens Advice Suffolk West, said she was glad the council had recognised the charity’s value.

“A lot of our time is spent sourcing funding to ensure we can continue to provide the advice and support our clients need with increasingly complex problems,” she said.

“As a local charity we rely on local support, so an agreement which gives us a level of certainty is very helpful, even though we may regret the actual reduction, and we are grateful to the county council for their change of heart.”

n For more on the first draft of Suffolk County Council’s budget, see page 11.